Tag: Mark Van Guilder

Beyond the Bradley Center: Admirals Look to Overcome Slow Start, Score More

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 9 G.P., 4-5-0-0–8 pts., 21 goals scored, 24 goals allowed, 12th place in the Western Conference. Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points).

Best Recent Win: Oct. 31 5-4 over Charlotte. Worst Recent Loss: Oct 20 1-0 at San Antonio. Key Upcoming Matchup: Nov. 10 at Rockford.

On a historic political night in the state of Wisconsin, I thought I would take time to chime in on the Milwaukee Admirals season for the first time this season. Its great to be back. Hopefully we will be hearing the same rhetoric soon from the NHL.

Obviously, 4-5-0-0 was not the start Milwaukee was looking for coming off the fast finish of the 2011-2012 campaign. However, considering how few goals the Admirals scored so far (just 21, 7th worst in the AHL), things could be much worse. After Milwaukee suffered through a disastrous Texas road trip, the Admirals responded with two big wins in a three game stretch.

But I felt growing pains were to be expected in Milwaukee this season, especially early. Other than a few key veterans in familiar roles (Chris Mueller, Jonathon Blum, Jeremy Smith), the Admirals again sport a young roster full of fresh faces. Milwaukee is also being guided by its fourth head coach in a little over two years, and it can argued that its third philosophical change. Lastly, in a league rich with top NHL prospects due to the lockout, two of the Admirals’ key potential Predators, Ryan Ellis and Gabriel Bourque, have only made a limited impact due to injuries.

The biggest issue so far for Milwaukee has been a lack of consistent goal scoring. Too many nights sustained offensive pressure hasn’t been there leaving Jeremy Smith left to bail the team out (a job he’s quite capable of).  There have been a couple of major bright spots, notably the offensive efforts of rookies Patrick Cehlin and Mattias Ekholm, plus timely goals from Mark Van Guilder.

Honestly, I can’t help but be excited about the Admirals despite the slow start. Though lacking the major weapons of a team like Oklahoma City, the Admirals are deep with quality players. Defensively, Milwaukee has displayed a nice balance between offensive/transition blue liners and solid stay at home defenders.

This weekend Milwaukee plays Rockford for the first time this season. After last year’s terrible showing versus the IceHogs, Milwaukee will looking to take an early leg up on the season series.

So Roundtable . . . What did you think of Milwaukee’s start? Were you hoping for more? Are you seeing the positive signs I am seeing? Is Game 1 against Rockford a measuring stick game?

Van Guilder Returns, Bouvet-Morrissette Added and Preds Sign Pair

A key to the Milwaukee puzzle, Mark Van Guilder, is back with the Admirals for the 2012-2013 season after a signing an AHL contract today.

This will be the fourth full season for the popular forward, who posted career highs last season in goals (12), assists (15), points (27) and games played (70). The two-way specialist chipped in three game winners in 2011-2012 and posted a +8 rating. A couple of features I wrote over the last two seasons spelled out Van Guilder’s positive impact on Milwaukee. First a story on Van Guilder’s leadership on and off the ice. Second a story on MVG’s 2011 playoff heroics and his Kelly Cup run with Cincinnati.

This will be the first professional season for Andre Bouvet-Morrissette, who went undrafted by NHL teams. The 6-3 winger posted 39 goals and 33 assists for the Drummondville Voltigeurs last season, combined with 75 PIMs in 63 games. The Becancour, Quebec native added two more tallies in four playoff games. The AHL contract comes on the heals of news back in May that Bouvet-Morrissette had signed with Nashville, in what was thought at the time to be a preemptive move by the Predators to keep the prospect away from Montreal.

In addition Nashville recently announced the resigning of forward Mike Fisher (yesterday) and the signing of free agent defenseman Scott Hannan (last Friday). Fisher is back in the fold for two more years at $4.2 million per season. The 33-year-old Hannan will earn a $1 million, one-year/one-way deal to serve as another veteran on the Predators blueline.

So Roundtable . . . How would you like to welcome back Mark Van Guilder and what are your favorite MVG moments?

What do you think of the addition of Bouvet-Morrissette and what role do you see him playing in Milwaukee? Power forward, checker, fighter, scorer, or some sort of combination?

What do you think about Nashville’s addition of Scott Hannan? Does his addition shore up the Predators’ defensive depth chart?

Minor League Holiday Trials and Tribulations

One of the toughest aspects of being a minor league hockey player is dealing with all the unknowns of playing on a two-way contract.  With only a short notice, players with these deals can be tossed back and forth within an organization.

Over the past two seasons Milwaukee Admirals forward Mark Van Guilder dealt with plenty of unwanted movement, in his case between Milwaukee and the Cincinnati Cyclones.  Van Guilder spent his holiday season of 2009-2010 putting a lot of miles on his car.

“Last year I was on a two-way contract between Milwaukee and Cincinnati,” Van Guilder said. “I spent the first half of the season up with the Admirals, but I was sent down to Cincinnati the week before Christmas.”

Van Guilder’s well prepared travel plans got washed away in the transaction.

“Instead of that quick five hour drive home that I was planning on doing, it ended up being that I played with the Cyclones in Trenton and then had ride back through the night to Cincinnati,” Van Guilder said. “After the bus ride I got right into my car and drove the 12 hours home.”

Van Guilder points to Milwaukee forward Dylan Hunter this year as a player who is going through the same sorts of holiday hassles.

“Hunter just got called up to the Admirals and now he’s had to change his travel plans,” Van Guilder said.

Despite the minor league travel issues, Van Guilder feels lucky to be able to get home.

“Playing in Milwaukee, we do get a few days to go home,” Van Guilder said.  “It’s kind of mess sometimes, but were fortunate to get home and see our families anyways.”

Admirals Face a Quick Turnaround Back to Chicago

After a tough 5-1 loss to Chicago Saturday night, the Admirals don’t have to wait long for a rematch.

Milwaukee returns to the Windy City Tuesday night for a return engagement with the Wolves at Allstate Arena.

It will be sixth of ten meetings between the two geographic rivals, who share an unpleasant taste for one another.

“It’s one thing to be close to (Chicago)and to play them so many times, but we see each other so much that you kind of get sick of playing them,” Mark Van Guilder said.

Van Guilder points to the seven game series the two foes battled through last spring as a big factor.

“The other (thing) was playing them in the playoffs last year,” Van Guilder said. “Whenever you go through a seven game playoff series like we did with those guys, you definitely get up when you play them.”

The final aspect of the rivalry on the ice is the culture clash between organizations.  Nashville runs the Admirals as its primary developmental organization, stock piling the team with top prospects that are generally younger players.

Meanwhile, Atlanta keeps the Wolves as less of a dependent club by stocking Chicago with numerous AHL/NHL veterans, players like Jason Krog and Darren Haydar, who can pile up the points in the AHL, but have a more limited value to the parent NHL club.  The result is a style clash that plays out in intense ways on the ice.

“It’s always a good battle against two good teams that do things differently,” Van Guilder said.

Steve Begin Recalled to Nashville; Dylan Hunter joins Milwaukee; Mark Van Guilder Update

News out of Nashville is that Steve Begin has been recalled.  I fully expected Begin to get the call up to the Music City at some point this season, but what surprised me is that it took this long.

During his time in Milwaukee, Begin got 21 games of AHL seasoning and retooling, chipping in three goals and one assist.  Begin started showing signs of shaking off the non-training camp rust before suffering an injury setback.

But this is a well-deserved promotion for a guy who plays hard every night.

In his place the Admirals called up Dylan Hunter from the Cincinnati Cyclones.  Hunter bears a striking resemblance to former NHL-er Dale Hunter, one of the toughest guys ever to play the game.  Of course Dylan is Dale’s son.  Considering the Admirals are losing Begin, there doesn’t seem to be a more perfect player to take his place.

Mark Van Guilder is also close to returning the Admirals.  He may be back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday night in Chicago.

So, Roundtable, what are your expectations for Begin in the NHL?  Will he fit right in with Nashville, or will this not work out?  Do you like the addition of Hunter, who played nine games in Milwaukee last season?